I’m the kind of tired that lets me know that even if I could slumber, there aren’t enough hours in the night for the kind of rest i require. The kind of tired that makes my eyelids feel a little too heavy. The kind of tired that makes the whole world look like an apparition.
I’m the kind of tired that smiles weakly when you say “You’re so strong.” The kind of tired that smiles but wants to tell you not to call me that, because today I don’t want to be. Today I want to imagine that my legs are long and feminine, delicate and intricate. Today I don’t want to see the bruises that cover my knees. Today I want to imagine that words are beautiful for the way that the syllables roll off of tongues and not because of the weight they carry. Today I want to paint my nails and ignore the dirt underneath from years of holding this very ground too tightly while the world spins and tilts and all I can hear is “You’re so strong.”
I remember holding a handful of magic. It looked like glitter and felt like every good thing my mother ever sang to me about before bed. I had so much of it that at any moment I could imagine that I was a plane and you were the landscape. I could look over you and see only the vast amount of you, the way there was never an end to you, feel the distance between us as if it were only temporary, only until I needed some crackers or a nap and decided to touch down upon your ground once again.
When you’re young, you don’t notice that handful growing smaller until it’s too late. By the time you stop running and open your palm, you’re already seeing the magic flicker away on a breeze. It doesn’t matter how tight you close your eyes, how hard you wish, you can’t take flight and so you must see the landscape for what it is, accepting the inalienable truth that there are monsters far worse than any you’ve seen in your nightmares, watching the people you love unzip their skin to try on new flesh that doesn’t quite fit like you remember it should.
The trouble is that I’ve spent all these years with you surrounding me and keeping me flat against you so that I wouldn’t have the space to breathe, to think, to dream. I did, though. All these years on the ground and still I can feel myself suspended in the air, see you inviting me warmly to fall, promising me that it would be an adventure I couldn’t imagine from all the way up there.
I still see the magic occasionally, clutched in the sweaty fist of a child. I see the trail of glitter flowing behind her as she runs and yells “come and get me!” I watch the way she trips over her feet, but feels no fear because she doesn’t know yet that she can fall. She doesn’t know yet that there are monsters who will trip her and hold her down, and I can’t tell her. She squeals with delight as I chase her around the room hoping always that she will want to play cat and mouse, hoping always that she never lets me catch up.
I want to see her up there laughing and transforming from planes into fairies into dragons and back. I want to tell her never to believe you, I want to tell her never to touch you because you will steal her magic and you will steal her mind. I want to tell her to stay up there as long as she can, where clouds are cotton candy and stars are balls to throw and chase across this universe.
She will have all the time in the world to learn to read, to long divide, to kiss the back of her hand and imagine some kid named Stephen. She will never again have the time to spare with her guard down and her head thrown back, eyes crinkled. She will have to worry and ground herself from now on. I will have to put band-aids on her elbows and across her heart. I will have to watch her wrestle with the world between reality and the places she’s seen in her sweetest visions. I will have to tell her that the only magic in her fist will be the magic that she creates to lift her head from the mud and continue on this unforgiving journey.
I will read her Roald Dahl and promise her that the cold dissipates and seasons run through one another, always creating space for her to branch out and bloom again. I will kiss her forehead and tell her that I will read her the next chapter tomorrow, because I’m